Fabricio Oberto

Fabricio Oberto is without an NBA home, but still turns down offer from Turkish team

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Few names in the NBA demand the respect of “Fabricio Oberto,” as long as “respect” is measured in smirks, sighs, and knowing guffaws. The Argentinian big man, who played for the Washington Wizards last season, has had a tidy, victorious, and fairly unproductive career as a late-arrival to the American basketball scene. Oberto was a rookie with the Spurs at age 30, and it was in that season that he began carving out a tenure as a limited player in most respects — too slow to play consistent defense, too limited offensively to pose too much of a threat, too unathletic to be much of a presence on the boards — that still managed to get the job done.

Break down Oberto’s stats however you’d like and they still disappoint, yet his smart play, interior passing, and knack for hustle made him a starter on the title-winning Spurs in 2007. Nothing can take away that ring, even if Oberto was that starting lineup’s undeniable weak link.

Oberto has only seen two contracts in his NBA life. He signed a deal with the Spurs back in 2005, and then agreed to a one-year stint with Washington last year for a fairly minimal salary. There was a possibility that the Wizards may bring Fab back for his third NBA contract, but with their young bigs locked into place and ready to log serious minutes, his services are no longer needed there. Unsurprisingly, the rest of the market felt similarly, and Oberto’s limited skill set didn’t demand an NBA salary even in an off-season riddled with exorbitance. $20 million makes sense for Darko, after all, but for an older center with a superior career averages in rebounds, assists, and turnovers per 36 minutes as well as field goal percentage, even the league minimum was apparently too much to ask.

But hey, David Kahn can’t overpay for every center on the market.

With no offers to remain stateside, Oberto is left to sort through various overseas possibilities, but apparently none have tickled his fancy. Most recently: According to The Hoops Market, Turkish club Efes Pilsen offered Oberto a three-month deal to fill in for injured big man Miroslav Raduljica, which he declined due to its abbreviated length. Even without offers from top European teams, Oberto is still in the market for a longer (read: full-season) deal. Time isn’t on Oberto’s side, though, as basketball season is gearing up not only in the United States, but in Europe, as well.

Supposing that Oberto did indeed reject the offer from Efes Pilsen to play the waiting game on a better offer, he may soon be short on realistic long-term options. Some teams may be interested based on Oberto’s international reputation alone (he’s a valued member of the Argentine national team), but it’s not inconceivable that Fabricio could sit out a year or retire from the game for good if he doesn’t receive an offer to his liking.

Zaza Pachulia steals ball, starts break, blows open layup against Suns (VIDEO)

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Zaza Pachulia is riding the Golden State Warriors train for all it’s worth, in the good and the bad. In November, Pachulia hit a mid-range jumper and did a horse dance. If that was the zenith, Saturday night against the Phoenix Suns was the nadir.

Particularly because Pachulia blew a breakaway layup in which he definitely should have scored.

Instead, the Warriors big man stuffed the ball between the iron and the backboard, clumsily squandering his opportunity:

*Sad trombone*

Russell Westbrook’s no-look, two-hand, behind-his-head pass ignites Thunder break

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Russell Westbrook was just himself — hustling, attacking, and getting his fifth triple-double in a row Sunday night against the Pelicans.

But the play of the night didn’t get him any points or an assist. It was Westbrook hustling, getting to the floor to get a loose ball, then making the showtime pass to start a Globetrotters-like fast break that ended with an Andre Roberson dunk.

Westbrook had an impressive dunk of his own.

NBA VP Kiki VanDeWeghe on “unnaturual acts:” “Our rules are for every player”

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The NBA has tried to crack down on “unnatural acts” — players flailing body parts trying to draw a foul call.

At the heart of that is Golden State’s Draymond Green, who picked up a flagrant foul for the unnatural act of getting his leg high enough to kick James Harden in the face Thursday night. Green fired back at the league, saying in part, “It’s funny how you can tell me how I get hit and how my body is supposed to react. I didn’t know the league office was that smart when it came to body movements.” Green’s argument is that he was fouled in the air and the high leg was the natural act of him trying to keep his balance. (Doesn’t matter, it’s a reckless act and if you kick someone in the face you should get a flagrant foul. Also, try explaining the kick on Marquese Chriss on Saturday that way.)

Former All-Star NBA player as well as coach Kiki VanDeWeghe is now an NBA vice president and the guy who is the decision maker on these reviews and fouls. He spoke with Sam Amick of the USA Today about how those unnatural act rules are applied.

“Our rules are for every player,” VanDeWeghe told USA TODAY Sports. “We want each play judged according to the rules, as best possible, and the rules applied fairly across our whole league. That’s very important to us. We don’t make exceptions for players. They are applied to everybody.

“In Draymond’s particular case (against the Houston Rockets on Thursday), he had an arm flail which struck the player (James Harden) in the neck-head area. And then in addition to that, he had a kick up above the head of the defender. As he brought his leg down, his heel hit him in the face. It wouldn’t matter what player we’re talking about (it’s a foul)….

“Most of these are done to draw the attention of the referees. We noticed an uptick in these last year, and they needed to be addressed by the competition committee.”

While Green feels singled out — “marked” is what he tweeted — VanDeWeghe noted that competition committee included owners, coaches, GMs, people from the players union, and a lot of people with playing experience, who all sat down as a group and studied what is and is not an “unnatural act.” As Amick noted, it isn’t just Green who gets hit with these penalties, although he gets the headlines: Boston’s Marcus Smart was given a Flagrant One for his kick to the groin of the Miami’s Hassan Whiteside; Thursday LeBron James was given a technical foul for his blow to the head of the Clippers’ Alan Anderson.

So long as Green continues to make these acts — and the kick to Chriss Saturday suggests they are not slowing down — the crackdown will continue.

Watch Raptors PG Kyle Lowry throw a full-court alley oop to Pascal Siakam

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Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry is having an excellent year for the Eastern Conference Finals hopefuls, and part of that is due to his vision. On Saturday, Lowry threw a full-court lob to Pascal Siakam that was mighty impressive.

After a missed shot in the middle of the third quarter by the Atlanta Hawks, Lowry gathered the rebound on the left block and quickly turned his eyes downcourt.

Siakam, the No. 27 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, was streaking toward the Raptors basket and behind the Hawks defense.

Lowry took advantage with a long-distance heave after one dribble at the free-throw line, and Pascal was able to gather and softly lay the ball up at the rim.